I wanted to know for myself and I realized that best way to do that was to visit the area for myself. Travel is always a wonderful way to experience the heart and soul of an area, and when I learned that Expedia offered the best price on a Philadelphia holiday I booked my tickets immediately. Read on to find out which one I thought was the best.
Pat’s King of Steaks
With a moniker that evokes royalty it makes sense to think this cheesesteak would live up to its name, and the history surrounding the locale itself. Pat’s has long been known the original purveyor of fine cheesesteaks, and I had to try one for myself.
After waiting in the long line at Pat’s King of Steaks it was hard not to notice their rival restaurant just across the way. However, when I got my sandwich I could think of little else but that juicy steak and cheese right in front of me. Pat’s cheesesteak was divine. The steak was flavourful and tender, and although I was dubious about the addition of the Cheez Whiz, I can now see the appeal.
Pat’s number one rival is Geno’s Steaks. The two restaurants are within spitting distance of each other and are arch rivals. After I thoroughly enjoyed my steak from Pat’s I was curious to try what Geno’s had to offer.
It’s hard to tell by the crowds which restaurant is more popular, as they lines appear to be equally long. I made my way to the front and placed my order, and my sandwich arrived, piping hot, within seconds. When I bit into the hot and gooey steak surrounded by the soft bread I immediately knew that, if pressed to choose, I would say that Geno’s sandwich was the clear winner. The steak had more rich flavour and the cheese was expertly melted throughout.
Once I had tried the cheesesteaks at the two most famous restaurants in town I felt that I should visit some of the lesser known steak purveyors. Upon several recommendations I decided to try Tony Luke’s in South Philadelphia. Far from the tourist heavy location of both Pat’s and Geno’s, Tony Luke’s lies beneath a bridge and is decidedly unassuming.
There is nothing fancy about Tony Luke’s, and the restaurant workers are a bit surly, but the cheesesteak was perfect. The meat was rich and succulent and the cheese — I tried provolone this time — was perfectly melted. The onions were sweet and tangy, and as I sat on the bench outside trying to keep my sandwich from falling out of its paper wrapping, I felt as if I’d reached cheesesteak nirvana.
John’s Roast Pork
I didn’t expect a restaurant named for roast pork to be a contender in the best cheesesteak battle, but it is. When I heard that John’s Roast Pork made cheesesteaks that the locals raved about, I knew I had to try one. I also knew I had to get there early as John’s is rarely open past 4 pm.
As I stood in line with the workers from the nearby dock I was relatively certain that this might be better than the cheesesteak I’d eaten previously at Tony Luke’s, and I was right. The steak is sliced wafer thin, and the bread was lightly toasted on the outside and pillowy on the inside. I went with the Cheez Whiz again and added grilled onions. The dock workers and I all stood there eating in silence, as there are no words for something that delicious.
When my visit to Philadelphia was coming to an end I realized that it was time to choose my favourite. After careful consideration I selected John’s Roast Pork and their amazing rendition of the classic Philadelphia cheesesteak. The flavours combined with the strong local presence made this one a clear winner in my book.
If you find yourself in the City of Brotherly Love make sure you try as many cheesesteaks as your time and budget allows. Strike out on your own cheesesteak trail or take a food tour but make sure that you eat enough to form your own expert opinion.
(Photo by jpellgen via Flickr)